What is Raise the Cross?
The Church exists for the unconvinced. It is God’s one and only rescue plan. And we are the catalyst of it. While our mission hasn’t changed, methods and strategies change continually to reach more people. Whether it be attire, worship styles, location, names, buildings, creative elements – we have been bold in breaking down barriers that keep people from coming to this church and experiencing the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Through prayer and wise counsel, the Church Leadership Council identified two significant barriers that still affect many people from coming to our church and being introduced to Jesus in a way that leads to a lifelong relationship with Him:
When God gives you a new ASSIGNMENT, He gives you a new NAME.
God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, Jacob’s name to Israel, Saul’s name to Paul. Even in our own church’s history, we have updated our name to better align with who we are and who we are called to reach during seasons of our history. The purpose behind every name update was this: we have always been a people with a desire to do whatever it takes to reach more people and have the greatest impact.
Bottom line, when God gives you a new assignment, He gives you a new name. We are a church that is not just about being first in this city and the denomination with which we are affiliated. Today, our geography is not limited to Wylie. The vision for the future is to multiply our reach even further beyond Wylie. We also recognize that the name “Baptist,” while once having communicated trust, integrity, and influence, is a barrier in today’s culture and communicates the exact opposite to many outside the church.
Our building is, at best, confusing. You may have heard it jokingly said that we are a “mullet church” – business in the front and party in the back. In all seriousness, the best part of our building is the back (Commons) entrance. People driving by do not see it, and first-time guests typically enter through the front door. Our red brick, white column facade does not reflect who we are on the inside of the building.
As we have met with groups and asked people what they think of when they see the front of our church, answers have varied: traditional, judgmental, like a court house, intimidating, old, like a museum. Some have said that they drove by for years without paying it much attention, others said that they didn’t even know the church was still open. The most distressing stories are of those who had a difficult time coming to church after being invited because of how the building looks.
We shape BUILDINGS, buildings shape US.
In the weeks ahead, we will be sharing God's vision for FBW, and how you can be a part of making it a reality. For now, we ask that you:
- PRAYER – Pray for a sense of unity among God’s people, and that each of us would seek Him to discern our part in God’s plan for His church.
- PRIORITY – The Raise the Cross series will span four weeks, from March 19/20 through April 9/10. Be here every weekend!
- PARTICIPATION – Everyone of us has a part to play. God has brought you here, to this church, for such a time as this. His plan for this season includes all of us – we get to be a part of a defining moment in the life of FBW.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Church Leadership Council will vote on the name. The church will vote on a constitutional amendment to make the name update official.
Yes! Removing “Baptist” in our name is not a change in our beliefs. Denominations are man-made institutions, and thus having a denomination in a church name is a man-made barrier to some who might not otherwise visit the church. We are NOT leading the church to leave the Southern Baptist Convention or to no longer be Baptist, nor are we leading the church to move away from Baptist doctrine. We are not leading the church away from investing in such impactful resources as the SBC’s Cooperative Program. We ARE leading the church to harken back to an ancient future, one that boldly claims who Christ is and what He has done (and continues to do) for us. We lead people to what we draw them with, and we want to lead people to an identity in Christ rather than an identity in a denomination.
The name update is in no way in response to any perceived pressure to be less Christian or more “tolerant.” It is, in fact, quite the opposite. Our desire is, through our name and our brand identity, to more clearly present who we are and what we believe. It is about being more intentional about reaching as many people as we can by removing any barriers that exist to people experiencing the love of Jesus through our church. We want people to see Jesus more clearly.
We will announce the new name in the coming weeks but we are confident that the cross will be represented in the name. The cross is the most polarizing symbol in the world today – “cancel culture” would have us not be associated with the cross. Making the cross preeminent over everything is bold, and it keeps to the boldness of who we are as a church, and who we should be as followers of Jesus Christ. As Galatians 6:14 says, “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by why which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Our goal is to make the pinnacle of the cross the highest point in the region.
We are not saying we are forgetting our history or our legacy, or in any way discounting the importance of that history and legacy. But we want to to be good stewards of the assignment God has given us now and where He is leading us in the future. Over 150 years ago, a small group of people banded together to establish our church community. The best way we can honor their boldness is to be bold in the times in which we find ourselves. We must do whatever it takes to ensure another 150 years of reaching and serving the community and launching out from here to change the world. We honor the past by securing the future.
Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16), meaning that people know our beliefs based on what we do and our behavior, not by the name on the building. Our statement of faith, which is part of the church’s constitution, is based on the doctrinal statements of The Baptist Faith and Message as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention and will continue to be the same. We will continue to make this public and will not hide the fact that we are still a Baptist church.
The damage sustained by the church from the hailstorm in April 2016 prompted an emergency response to extract water and to replace roofs, windows, and heating and air conditioning units, not unlike what many people faced in their homes during that time. We also began assessing other physical challenges on our campus.
On the weekend of June 25/26, 2016, the church voted unanimously to enlist an architect and other experts to evaluate building needs and future development, and to approve a capital campaign to begin saving for the cost of those anticipated future needs. A Master Plan was presented on September 21, 2016.
On October 2, 2016, we hosted a Vision Workshop. The purpose of the vision workshop was to receive input on the proposed campus renovation and expansion plans from our church family. We found there was great excitement and support for increased children, preschool and adult space, a renovation of the chapel, additional parking, a multipurpose atrium to alleviate congestion, modern architecture, better security and, most importantly, for the opportunity to grow God’s kingdom through a bigger and more functional location in downtown Wylie.
With this understanding, we narrowed down the Master Plan into a “Phase I” to begin immediately. In 2017, we raised funds and broke ground to expand and improve adult education space, to create secure children’s ministry space, and to build the Commons. The grand re-opening of these areas was in the spring of 2018.
In 2019 and in 2020, work was done to expand parking, to improve and modernize the worship center, to add an indoor playground, to restore the chapel, and to replace the outdoor playground.
During 2020 and 2021, the Church Leadership Council met and prayed about the next and upcoming phase of the Master Plan. The CLC voted in June 2021 to explore an update to the church’s front door with a general contractor and an architect. We also conducted another round of Vision Workshops with church staff, the personnel team, the finance team, deacons, and growth group leaders. The steeple was totaled by the 2016 hailstorm and must be taken down. However, the consensus we received from those workshops is not to replace the steeple with another steeple, but to modernize the architecture and “raise a cross” instead. Schematic design began in September 2021. A preliminary concept was presented to the CLC on October 6.
We have an education staff who vets all of our group leaders, as well as any curriculum and materials used in small groups and discipleship ministries. In the past, God has led people here from other denominations, and we pray that He continues to do so in even greater numbers. We will continue to honor His church by ensuring that any teaching stays faithful to Scripture.
Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” We know that only God can grow His church, and nothing we do or do not can change that. However, we take the stewardship of HIs church very seriously, along with the mission to spread His fame by making disciples of ALL people. As we identify any barriers to accomplishing that mission, it is our responsibility to remove them. Another way to ask the question is “What if we do NOT make these changes and people continue to see the building and the name as barriers and do not come and experience the love of Jesus?”
This church is focused on helping people grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and that is true growth. We believe that continuing to focus on the discipleship of the people that God brings to this church is the key to growth, and our prayer is that through these steps He will send even more people.
The cost to renovate the front of the main campus is estimated to be $1.7 million.
If we raise more than the project cost, first we will praise God for His provision! Under the guidance of the Finance Team, we will allocate excess funds to:
- Expand ministries
- Accelerate debt reduction
- Grow investment in “Spreading God’s Fame by Making Disciples of All People” as the Holy Spirit leads and provides.
Maude Sweeney is our first contributor to this initiative. She gifted her home to the church, which enabled “the widow’s mite” to become an $88,000 down payment on this project. Budget surplus dollars may also help us fund this project. However, we believe the project cost can be received through God’s people with 0ne-time gifts and commitments above regular tithes and offerings over a twelve-month period.
Interim construction financing will be secured so that construction can begin, but it will be repaid as contributions to this initiative are collected.
Our prayer is that no new debt is incurred from this project at the end of the commitment period.
If the generosity of our church family is greater than our need, we are confident that both things can be true: (1) we can accomplish God’s vision for His church, and (2) new long-term debt will not be necessary.
Any decisions regarding debt must first be approved by the Finance Team and then submitted to the CLC for a vote.
God’s people at FBW continue to be generous, and the ministries of His church continue to grow as a direct result of that generosity. In addition, we continue to reduce our existing debt through regular debt payments as well as occasional use of surplus giving to reduce debt principal. We know that when God gives His church a vision, He provides the resources to accomplish that vision. If we did not invest in the building additions and improvements in the last five years, many of the new people who are here now would not be – those were vision projects not just building projects. And now we once again find ourselves with another opportunity to give to support another defining moment in the life of our church, above and beyond our regular giving.
As Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” And so, while we have planned around a timeline, we will continue to seek God’s guidance as we work through this project.
Our hope is for fundraising and building completion to occur by the end of 2022.